Imagine a hero stolen away by the queen of the fairies, turned into a tree, inadvertently rescued by his true love who later ends up pregnant and is responsible for ensuring that all ends happily ever after. And now picture all told through the medium of dance. Here you have Tamlane, which plays at Wadham’s Moser theatre this week.
The preview had its kinks. Fairies were missing. The music isn’t finished yet. The Moser still looks like a badminton court. However, none of this really mattered compared with the spectacle that has been created in this most unusual of productions.
The three leads were simply fantastic. Anja Meinhardt (The Faery Queen), Robert Walport (Tamlane), and Sarah Thorp (Margaret) not only demonstrate phenomenal dance ability but also some powerful and poignant acting. Meinhardt is Amazonian strength personified as The Faery Queen, exerting total control over the stage whenever she graces it. Her first scene with Walport was a particular highlight, with a heated dynamic existing between the two of them that the music could only strengthen.
Choreographers Hannah Moore and Cedric Tan have done a sterling job, incorporating a variety of dance styles seamlessly to present something unique and at times quite breathtaking. Despite the somewhat complicated plot, I was never for a moment at a loss as to what was going on as the story was told with great care and deftness.
The chorus scenes were a little more problematic. There were a few timing issues, and a few of the dancers still looked a little as though they were concentrating more on the steps than their character. But let’s not kid ourselves, these guys can really dance, and when the company all gets it right at once the result is quite astonishing. The scene in which Margaret’s friends encourage her to abort her unborn child was a company highlight, where the chorus not only danced beautifully but acted their parts delightfully. This scene was also Thorp’s strongest as her anguish was played out from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, creating one of the most emotive and beautiful moments of the preview.
In terms of spectacles, Tamlane has it all. The play was visually stunning, with the chorus of fairies taking on contorted yet still beautiful poses to demonstrate the dense trees of the forest. It needs some work and isn’t quite there yet, but the potential of this production is clear for all to see. With the extraordinary talent of both cast and choreographers, this should be a quite unique piece of theatre.